America’s Zombie Survival Plan Is a Fine Example of Veiled Propaganda

CONOP 8888, America’s counter-zombie plan, is apparently a creatively devised training manual for U.S. Strategic Command officials. This does not mean that it is entirely innocuous, Bart Smout writes, “since we know that murder becomes easier with the dehumanization of the opponent.”

If the zombie apocalypse should break out tomorrow, we can at least rely on America’s support. Last week, Foreign Policy magazine announced that the Pentagon has a zombie contingency plan: a document named CONOP 8888, also known as “Counter-Zombie Dominance.”

The plan summary explains that CONOP 8888 was designed to “establish and maintain a vigilant defensive condition aimed at protecting humankind from zombies.” That is phase one. Once the defense system has been established, the plan explains how best to exterminate zombies – since, well, you eventually need to get rid of them. Next, the plan considerately provides tips for rebuilding American society.

Not a Job Half Done

CONOP 8888 is not a job half done. That much is clear from the detailed descriptions of the zombie horde. Whether we can expect “zombies from outer space,” “chicken zombies,” or radioactive zombies — created by, you guessed it, radioactive waves — the Pentagon is prepared for anything.

It did not take long before the Dutch media picked up the news. A zombie survival plan: hilarious, naturally, but also a perfect symbol for a country so obsessed with security that it has lost sight of reality. Oh, those Americans: stark, raving, mad.

Mind you, those on the other side of the ocean do realize that zombies do not exist. The creators of the plan write that they chose a fictional opponent to avoid panic in case the plan were leaked. In addition, their methodology keeps Strategic Command trainees attentive during their lessons, “Because the plan was so ridiculous, our students not only enjoyed the lessons; they actually were able to explore basic concepts of plan.”

Creative Training Material

So CONOP 8888 is a creatively devised training document, but that is not to say it is entirely innocuous, since we know that murder becomes easier with the dehumanization of the opponent. By presenting the enemy – whoever that enemy may be – as zombies, the Pentagon gives students a helping hand in the dehumanization process. Zombies turn out, as it happens, to be ideal training material. They look like humans, but are not. They are already dead, which means shooting them to pieces hardly matters, and they always move forward as one clawing mass – zombies are not individuals. The first zombie with a personal, defined character is yet to rise from the grave. Human contact with the monsters is not possible – they will not listen to reason. You can talk at zombies all you like; it makes no difference. They are sham humans without feeling or individual thought. You can kill them without scruples.

The amusement that CONOP 8888 offers students is also an education in viewing the opponent as a nonhuman. Incidentally, framing the enemy as zombies, specifically, presents an ugly truth: namely that the Army often benefits from losing sight of reality and from literally creating a nonhuman out of the human enemy; this is a one-dimensional fiction.

America’s zombie survival plan is a laughable curiosity. At the same time, it is a fine example of veiled propaganda.

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